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Appling County Success Stories

Appling County Success Stories

Corrado (PDF) (209 KB)html
Deen (PDF)  (148 KB) html

Farmer Re-establishes Longleaf Pine Species on Several Acres

Donald Corrado has made managing trees a successful business. He’s been able to take a few acres that he purchased more than 30 years ago and expand his operation into just under 200 acres of healthy forest land. “I bought my first piece of property in 1977,” Corrado said.

A retiree from General Electric’s Nuclear Division, Corrado moved to Baxley in 1972. Over the last few decades he has learned not only best management practices for growing trees, Corrado has also become a conservationist committed to protecting wildlife habitats on his property.

In 2009, retired District Conservationist Joey Futch in the Baxley office told Corrado how a few USDA-Natural Resources Conservation (NRCS) programs could assist in meeting his goals. Corrado applied for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and was approved for a contract.

That contract has helped Corrado with site preparation and planting longleaf pine as part of the Longleaf Pine Initiative. Longleaf pine is native to Georgia and is known to perpetuate wildlife habitat, prevent soil erosion and improve air quality. “It’s a good program. It’s good with helping you re-forest,” Corrado said.

He planted 600 longleaf seedlings per acre on a total of 21 acres. “We had seven people planting the seedlings by hand. They finished in two days,” Corrado explained. The site also underwent herbaceous weed control after the seedlings were established. This practice involves spraying herbicide over the row of planted trees in the spring following planting to control undesirable competition.

Corrado said that EQIP technical and financial assistance “was encouragement for me to plant longleaf. It’s very expensive. I would have probably planted slash pine without NRCS assistance,” Corrado added that slash pine is less expensive and grows faster than the longleaf species.

In addition to the EQIP contract, Corrado also participates in the Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program (WHIP). A 2011 WHIP contract involved 27 acres in which more longleaf pine seedlings were established on Corrado’s property.

By 2013, Corrado will apply a prescribed burn in order to control undesirable vegetation, control disease, reduce wildfire hazards and improve wildlife habitat. Corrado sees both EQIP and WHIP as great ways to conserve natural resources for future generations. He said the government’s financial assistance in protecting the land has been an important factor. “If I can get money from the government and perpetuate this native tree here, I’m game for it,” Corrado added.

Appling County is a designated StrikeForce county in Georgia. The USDA StrikeForce Initiative is designated to help relieve persistent poverty in historically high-poverty counties.

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No-Till Saves Farmer's Dream

Jeffery (Jeff) Deen started farming 28 years ago, 8 miles south of Baxley off of the Satilla Church Road, in Appling County, using the conventional tillage methods of a row crops farmer. For him this method of farming was very expensive and time consuming. He had many problems ranging from soil erosion, degradation of soil quality, polluted runoff, and air pollution from dust. Because of these problems and the cost incurred with running the farm, Jeff, and his wife Michelle, were considering giving up on farming.

Then he took a class in Sustainable Agriculture and Conservation Tillage held in Douglas, by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). Deen said, “I was concerned about soil erosion, water quality and conservation issues, wildlife preservation and increasing organic matter to improve soil tilth.” This is what caused him to seek assistance from the NRCS. Deen decided to convert the operation to a conservation or no-till farm. He not only set goals that would benefit them, he also set goals that would benefit the environment as well; stopping their soil erosion problem, and the runoff of harmful chemicals and fertilizer into nearby Big Satilla Creek, reduce their need for commercial fertilizer, build organic matter, enhance wildlife, and reduce their fuel and water consumption.

“Deen converted his operation to a systems approach that included cover crops, residue management or conservation tillage, nutrient management, pest management, and irrigation water management on his irrigated acres. He received assistance for these practices through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP),” said Joey Futch, district conservationist for the NRCS. Deen said he liked the EQIP because, “It helps farmers to implement new ideas on their farm that they may not have had the opportunity to do without cost share assistance. If I had not started no-till farming, I would not be farming today.”

He also thinned and burned his forest acres through the EQIP Forestry/Wildlife program and he planted longleaf pine and established field borders for wildlife through the Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program (WHIP). Deen retrofitted a center pivot though EQIP Ground and Surface Water Program to reduce water use from the aquifer. He constructed an irrigation reservoir through the SE Georgia Irrigation Reservoir Program and constructed the first community nutrient management facility through the Community Nutrient Management Facility Program. He also has a forest stewardship plan through the Georgia Forestry Commission. All of the Deen’s hard work has paid off as the farm has benefited from the application of several conservation programs.

“This farming operation has benefited in many ways from the conservation efforts. Soil erosion has been eliminated; water quality has been improved in creeks and streams. Water and fuel consumption have been reduced. Input costs have been reduced by the lessened use of chemical and fertilizer applications. Hours of labor have been reduced. Wildlife has been enhanced and bobwhite quail populations have been reestablished,” said Deen. Deen has a philosophy for future generations; “Take care of the land and it will take care of you.” District Supervisors Frank Miles and J.M. Vaughn stated that, “Jeff has been a leader in conservation as evidenced by his recognition by the Altamaha Soil and Water Conservation District as Conservation Farmer of the year from Appling County for 2005.” “I believe in preservation through conservation,” said Deen.

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